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Part IV Balancing Trade and Non-Trade Objectives, Ch.25 Environment

Damilola S. Olawuyi

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (2e) (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Daniel Bethlehem, Donald McRae, Rodney Neufeld, Isabelle Van Damme

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

Environment — Endangered species — Climate change — Pollution

Questions on the relationships and possible conflicts between trade law and environmental law have resulted in some of the most charged debates in international law over the last few decades. While a lot of progress has been made in clarifying the legal interactions between, and the complementary benefits of, these two important areas of law, a number of questions remain unresolved. These debates have assumed greater significance and urgency as the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underscores the need for enhanced partnership—globally, regionally, and nationally—on trade and environment issues.

The first objective of this chapter is to consider the key phases in efforts to harmonize trade and environmental regimes at the international level. It examines how the interactions between both regimes have moved from an informal alliance phase, confrontation and formal recognition phase, and then to an increasingly formalized partnership phase. The second objective of this chapter is to examine key unresolved challenges and questions that remain about how to effectively interpret and implement international treaty obligations on free trade and the environment in a coordinated, coherent, and less fragmented manner. The key issues remain threefold: harmonizing existing WTO rules with obligations set out in MEAs; advancing coordination and partnership between trade and MEA institutions; and reducing or eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services. This chapter considers these questions and suggests a wide array of mutually supportive solutions to maximize coherence and harmonization between trade and environmental regimes.

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